One million bison, one continent, and one cohesive commitment to herd restoration. If the industry achieves its goal, the North American bison herd will swell to 1 million strong by 2027. This aggressive growth goal was announced this week at the 2017 International Bison Conference as the “Bison 1 Million” campaign with more than 600 ranchers, producers, marketers, and enthusiasts in attendance.
Representatives of The National Bison Association (NBA), Canadian Bison Association (CBA), InterTribal Buffalo Council (ITBC), and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) participated in the announcement as a demonstration of the collaborative commitment to bison restoration among private ranchers, public herd managers, tribal leaders, conservationists, government agencies, and other stakeholders in the United States and Canada.
“Six years ago, many of us came together in the successful campaign to establish bison as the National Mammal of the United States. Today, we are reaffirming our commitment to continue to work together to restore bison in commercial, conservation, and cultural herds across North America,” said Dave Carter, executive director for the National Bison Association.
“It is great to be part of these bison enthusiasts who are so committed to grow bison numbers,” added Terry Kremeniuk, executive director of the Canadian Bison Association.
North America’s bison population, once on the verge of extinction in the 1880’s with less than 700, has steadily recovered. Today, an estimated 391,000 are in North American private, public, and tribal herds, according to NBA data. Adding 609,000 head of America’s official mammal to this continent’s collective herd will be no easy or swift feat.
“We will always be dedicated to returning and promoting buffalo in Indian Country,” said Ervin Carlson, president of the InterTribal Buffalo Council.
“In the coming months, each of our partners will be providing outreach education on the activities that will help promote the continued restoration of bison on private, public, and tribal lands,” Carter added.
Over the past century the Wildlife Conservation Society and other conservation groups have expanded herds and established several new herds in their efforts to ensure the future of American bison. Today there are 68 conservation herds hosting 31,000 animals in refuges, parks, and conservation lands in North America. The conservation community has recognized the need to increase numbers and create more herds on large landscapes to achieve full ecological restoration of this iconic species. To do this, WCS shares the stewardship and partners with private, public, and tribal interests.
“The Bison 1 Million campaign gives us an ambitious target to focus our collective energy for the benefit of bison recovery,” said Keith Aune, director of the Bison Conservation Program for WCS.